The Blind House

by Amanda Allen


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Number of Ratings: 38
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy horror game that plays with the idea of puzzlefests, December 31, 2021
by Sono

So, you're in a house staying with a acquaintance after an incident left you with nowhere else to go. Maybe you have some ideas of how you should behave, or about what kind of houseguest to be. But, you're not playing as you. You're playing as Helena.

I think this is an interesting game to contrast with non-IF games. The closest equivalent to it I can think of is horror RPG maker games such as Ib, without a obvious goal but to go around solving puzzles anyway. The Blind House is less dreamlike with its grounded setting inside someone's home where you interact with mundane objects. You have puzzles such as how to fill a vase with flowers, how to cover an annoyingly bright window, and more traditionally slightly-insane IF puzzles like figuring out what a code on a blouse corresponds to, finding the password to a computer, and figuring out how to call someone. What doesn't feel quite homely does fit what you expect out of retro IF. And on the whole, even when you realize what you're doing is strange, you have to if you want to proceed in the game. To quote Emily Short's review, "Behaving in a “normal” IF adventurer way was, within the context of the fiction, behaving in a completely creepy and unacceptable way" and that's a really fun thing to play with.

And the payoff is really great. I've found lots of horror games unwilling to explain themselves recently, but this game does not turn away from the weird shit that you've been doing in the end.

Are the puzzles fair? Eh. You'll probably need the walkthrough at some point, but it's included and not too much of a pain. A lot of smaller points are skippable if you don't explore, but the horror would not work so well if you didn't go out of your way to explore and solve these puzzles. It's impossible to get to the end without exploring, so if you find yourself relying on the walkthrough because the puzzles are impossible, I recommend playing again in a few months when you generally know what you need to do but don't remember the specifics.

Concerning problematicness, as stated by another review - the nature of this game as the player as a (Spoiler - click to show)creepy person trying to trap the victim in their own home necessitates an abuser and a victim. While I thought (Spoiler - click to show)Helena's twisted 'protectiveness' and self-justifications that could be read as romantic were a lot more cheesy and obviously evil than scary, especially compared to the her outright denial of what she was doing and the subtlety of her not being able to look in the mirror (because it was covered with bandages), I don't think that that's very out of place in a horror game. Subtextual or not, it's about someone (Spoiler - click to show)predating on someone else which is inherently creepy, and the game being about two women means that the relationship between them will be read as creepy. I don't think it came as a surprise as to what the story was building to, as you-as-Helena must do some very invasive things to reach that point. I also think a benefit is that this story is entirely about the Helena and Marissa - at full tilt, (Spoiler - click to show)the psychotic lesbian isn't a footnote or a joke or side character, she's the heart of the game, so if that's what you're looking for you can have it explored in its entirety here, and if you're not it's not a surprise what you'll be getting into.

My favorite horror moments include
(Spoiler - click to show)
Superglue disappearing from your inventory
Not being able to call anyone
The beginner's quality creepy paintings in the drawer, that Helena presumably made
White roses stained auburn
Twenty bandaids, ten for each arm

Somethings that might be better of fixed
(Spoiler - click to show)
You cannot call Marissa because you don't know anyone named Marissa... the default error message is silly when applied to people you obviously know
The phantom phone call will keep triggering whenever you step out of the room, making it a bit comical

- Edo, July 23, 2021

- beecadee, November 14, 2020

- doodlelogic, October 17, 2020

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
An experience more than an adventure, September 24, 2020
by Stephane F. (France)

Maybe it's because I'm not a native English speaker, but I didn't understand much of the story. Apart from this minor drawback, The Blind House is a very well written interactive fiction, with descriptions that are both sober and striking, and that manage to distill a real unease, a heavy, mysterious atmosphere, where one constantly expects things to go very wrong. The house offers a significant number of objects to examine and manipulate, the few puzzles are not complicated enough to be really frustrating, and generally speaking the flow of the game is very good. An experience more than an adventure.

My transcript here :


Peut-être est-ce dû au fait que je ne suis pas nativement anglophone, mais je n'ai à peu près rien compris à l'histoire. En dehors de cet inconvénient mineur, The Blind House est une fiction interactive très bien écrite, aux descriptions à la fois sobres et frappantes, et qui arrivent à distiller un réel malaise, une ambiance pesante, mystérieuse, où l'on s'attend sans cesse à ce que les choses tournent très mal. La maison offre un nombre appréciable d'objets à examiner et manipuler, les quelques puzzles ne sont pas assez compliqués pour être vraiment frustrants, et d'une manière générale le flow du jeu est très bon. Une expérience plus qu'une aventure.

- mstahl, September 15, 2018

- airylef, December 18, 2017

- zylla, March 5, 2017

- RoboDragonn, January 31, 2017

- Aselia, September 1, 2016

- Denk, April 26, 2016

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Creepy game about reality and refuge, February 3, 2016

This game is about two women, one staying in another' s home. The story of how they got there and who they are is slowly unraveled throughout the game.

As I played the first 3/4 of the game, I thought it was one of the best horror games I had ever played, with good implementation. The little hints to the real nature of the situation came out so well.

But I didn't care for the endings. I felt it didn't mesh well with the earlier setup. But this is common to most horror games.

There are a few annoying search-everywhere puzzles, so don't feel bad getting help.

- E.K., November 12, 2013

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), May 9, 2013

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Says it's about plot, atmosphere and exploration, but is more of a puzzlefest, April 14, 2013

I started with this one by following the author's initial advice upon booting the game: I read the About text. It claimed that the focus of the game is more on plot, atmosphere and exploration rather than on intense puzzle-solving.

And then we started off with a bunch of puzzles. Plot-driven puzzles, mind you, but I found myself refreshingly all geared up for story, and suddenly I was trying to figure out how to lock doors and cover mirrors and get rid of light through the window so that I could fulfill the very pressing need of getting to sleep. Plot and atmosphere rather than puzzles, eh? I felt kind of betrayed right out of the gate on this one, and perhaps because the game promises to be not puzzly, there are no hints and alternative solutions don't work the way they should.

The other initial impression I had, though, was a positive one: nice art, author-drawn, with good use of Glulx features. There's a nicely crafted, aesthetically pleasing map visible during play, which shows the layout of objects mentioned in room descriptions. It provides a better sense of place. There's also an image of the two characters in the game, and I'm curious if this image will change as the story progresses (sadly, it turns out that it does not, though that would have been a nice feature).

The game also says I'm supposed to be thinking about things a lot. I try that a bit. I try to think about the thing that's most pressing on my mind right now, according to the status bar, and can't figure out a way to think about that. I'm not sure what that refers to, the game tells me.

And then here we go again, with some more puzzles. Here's the thing, Author: I like puzzleless IF, so please don't build me up to believe I'm going to experience a game that's puzzleless, and then put scavenger hunts and look-behind-object puzzles in my way.

I sense that the game, though solid in writing and intriguing in plot, could really have benefited from more testers/testing, and that makes me a little sad, because there's a lot that's solid here and it feels so close to being really good. But it's frustrating me just enough to be annoying.

I can't decide if the game was ultimately intentionally surreal and disjointed due to perceived themes of mental illness or just... well... if it was just really screwed up writing.

Anyway, my husband wishes I'd had a microphone recording me while I played this, because this game drew from me a whole range of audible emotions: loud sighing, profanity, frustrating grrs, nervous laughter, a couple of fairly loud outbursts, and once (just for effect) I slammed a nearby stool into the carpeting. I had an audience, though. I was conscious of that.

This is probably a two star game, but it's almost a three, and I am the sort who likes to give the benefit of the doubt, so I'll give it a three. Sad, though, as this could have done so much better.

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
I never thought an IF will play with my innocent mind…, March 14, 2013

This review is mostly for new players…

Let’s begin with the story of the game, there is a woman Helena, she got some kind of accident and she is staying in her friend’s house, Marissa. That’s all I will tell about the story. Even after I beat the game, I’m quite confuse, this games kinda play with your mind. You are exploring this house, finding clues and stuff, the puzzle are very easy, there is no map in this game... BUT, there’s a 4 year old drawing in each room, and my brain know where all the places are without need the map, the drawing make me remember each place easily, also the house you are exploring is very tiny. The game is very short, at least the ending I get. I recommend this one to new players, because the puzzle are easy, very easy, If you have played dozens of point and click (like me), you will only find a bit of a challenge, but you will discover what to do quickly. This game do some tricky things to fool the player, but, in my opinion, the author make a error, I will not say what it is, but lets say, if not where for that, I will have thought I was going crazy instead that the game was make to be that way. This is a fun little game, newbie will not need to be afraid of this one, so far, is the easiest IF game I have played, I beat it without need of hints or anything, and I have been playing game with pictures since I was a child so believe in me, if your are new, play this one, trust me.

- verityvirtue (London), January 24, 2013

- Ben Treat (Maine, USA), July 9, 2012

- Andrew Schultz (Chicago), May 14, 2012

- Wade Clarke (Sydney, Australia), November 25, 2011

- Hannes, November 12, 2011

- Sam Kabo Ashwell (Seattle), August 2, 2011

- WaterMonkey314, July 4, 2011

2 of 15 people found the following review helpful:
Lesbian Noir, May 15, 2011
by AmberShards (The Gothic South)

Initially, The Blind House impresses you, artfully and graciously. The setting is dark, psychological, and constrained, yet sauced in delicious unease. The puzzles are also simple, at first, and even the ones which are not intrigue you instead of frustrate you. The layout of the screen features the game's graphic at the lower right and a graphical map at the lower left -- truly, a revolution in IF branding. Lastly, the main character's main current thoughts are floating just below the status bar. These game mechanics go a long way towards making TBH playable, and memorable, and cement the noir atmosphere.

Then the puzzles get less obvious and my interest wanes. The middle section takes too much time to unriddle and drains the prickly, panicky fear away. I'm also convinced that there's some sort of timing bug -- occasionally Marissa doesn't return (I waited until after 9 PM), and other times she returns after barely thirty moves. Originally, I thought that had Marissa returned earlier, the further revelations of the game would be avoided, but that was only wishful thinking.

The main character grows less likable as she becomes better defined; her thoughts hover upon indecency, and her jealousy of Estelle betrays her attraction to women (it's a jealous madness, but attraction nonetheless). Other scenes reveal this as well, and not in any subtle, interpretable way. The ending scenes make it completely clear. TBH is lesbian noir.

This casts a vomit-colored light upon the rest of the game. The middle section is Helena pawing through the private life of someone that she wishes was her lover. Even the introduction makes more sense -- why were the characters seemingly so close? (Spoiler - click to show)What actually happened last night, except for a lover's fight that turned deadly? The ending does succeed in wrapping things up, although it is anti-climactic, and it assumes a few things that you may not have done.

The writing in many places is taut, eerie, and evocative, but that in no way atones for requiring someone to live inside Helena's skin. That horror remains, like the memory of being deathly sick.

- JohnW (Brno, Czech Republic), March 16, 2011

- Ben Cressey (Seattle, WA), February 14, 2011

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful:
Well-written, but problematic, February 13, 2011
by EJ

There's a lot to like about The Blind House. The writing is elegant and atmospheric. The characterization is strong. The player has only three brief conversations with Marissa, but everything in her house tells us something about her -- her paintings, the books on her bookshelf, the videos she watches. The player character, Helena, is more of an enigma, but she's supposed to be. The horror aspect is also done well. It relies more on implication than on shock or gory descriptions; throughout the game's series of unsettlingly surreal episodes there's a build-up of dread leading to a climax that's less a shock than a confirmation of the player's worst suspicions.

The gameplay works well for what it's supposed to do, which is to supplement the story without distracting from it (puzzle fans will want to look elsewhere). It's generally clear what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to go, but the game doesn't overdo the hand-holding. There were a few things I still felt a sense of accomplishment for working out, but I'm pretty terrible at this stuff, so that may just be me.

I have only one problem with the game overall -- and unfortunately it's hard to discuss without mentioning the endings, so please forgive me for the spoilers.

There are vague, but definitely present, homoerotic undertones to the relationship between Helena and Marissa, which makes the whole thing come off as "predatory psychotic lesbian (Spoiler - click to show)stalks, hurts, and possibly kills the object of her affections." The fact that the place where these undertones are most obvious is the ending where (Spoiler - click to show)Helena kills Marissa (while lying on top of her on a bed, no less) really does not help here. I feel a little bad complaining about this (after all, lesbians can be crazy just like anyone else can), but the "predatory psychotic lesbian" thing has a long and sordid history as the most common portrayal of lesbians in fiction. This game feels like a bit of a throwback to the days of Mrs. Danvers and the like, and the fact that it's all kept on a subtextual level only adds to that.

I don't mean to suggest that the author played into this stereotype on purpose; I know how easy it is to stumble into these things without meaning to. But it left a bad taste in my mouth in a game I otherwise quite enjoyed.

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful:
Psychologically disturbing... in a good way., February 6, 2011

"The Blind House" is reminiscent of suspenseful short stories by authors such as Ruth Rendell. In this game, you play a disturbed individual, tormented by recent events in your life. You are entering the home of an old classmate from college, who is allowing you to stay with her. She is a timid type of person, and seems most anxious to make you comfortable. She is one of the few people you trust, and you felt compelled to call on her in your time of need. You feel unsafe out in the world. And you're exhausted. All you want is to lock yourself away in the dark and to sleep. But even sleep, it seems, is unsafe. For when you awaken, you find yourself bleeding, and the items in your room displaced. Your paranoia increases.

It's morning of the next day. Your friend is out and you have the empty house to yourself. Your mind is full of unanswered questions. And thus begins your search for understanding. But be forewarned as you embark, for in this search you may uncover a darker evil than you had first imagined.

"The Blind House" is a beautiful and disturbing short work of fiction. It is basically puzzleless, and is thus best enjoyed when approached as a story, rather than a game. There is plenty of opportunity for free exploration during portions of the game, but after certain tasks are completed, the story takes over. NPC interaction is limited to multiple choice lists of pre-written dialogue, but this seems to work well in this particular game. "The Blind House" is best enjoyed when approached with an open mind. And it's definitely worth a replay or two (there are interesting clues throughout the story which will more appreciated after having reached the end.)

- ifwizz (Berlin, Germany), January 2, 2011

- Simon Christiansen (Denmark), December 10, 2010

- Kevin Jackson-Mead (Boston), November 27, 2010

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), November 16, 2010

- Nusco (Bologna, Italy), November 16, 2010

- Mark Jones (Los Angeles, California), November 16, 2010

- perching path (near Philadelphia, PA, US), November 10, 2010

- Rhian Moss (UK), November 7, 2010

- Karl Ove Hufthammer (Bergen, Norway), November 2, 2010

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful:
Raises more questions than it answers, October 28, 2010
by Danielle (The Wild West)
Related reviews: ifcomp 2010

I liked the sense of mystery introduced in this piece--coming in from the rain, Estelle, just nosing around someone else's life.

The introductory section struck me as a little purple-prosey, but by the end, the writing either improved (injecting a lot of atmosphere without any cheesiness) or I stopped noticing any flourishy bits.

Here's where I'm lost: even though the author states that this is an interactive story, and more about your interpretation than puzzles...I didn't really feel like I got all the stuff I needed to construct my own background.

In particular, (Spoiler - click to show)I couldn't even tell if I was real or not. Some little bits made me think that hey--maybe I'm a figment of this gal's imagination or a separate personality?--but other evidence seems to point to the idea that I'm real and abusive. Or maybe I killed the houseowner in the first scene??. And I couldn't quite figure out how Estelle fit into all this. And I really WANTED to know.

It's pretty well-implemented, and there's a couple of interesting things to do (like (Spoiler - click to show)replacing the dry flowers in the bathroom with the roses...which I might have dyed with hair dye??), and overall, you'll enjoy snooping around someone else's house for an evening.

But the interpretive aspect of the work/work's meaning just didn't do it for me.

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